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Have Your Candy and Eat it Too: Dental Tips for a Mouth-Healthy Halloween

Have Your Candy and Eat it Too: Dental Tips for a Mouth-Healthy Halloween

Halloween Candy vs. Cavities: Don’t Make Kids Choose

Halloween is once again almost upon us. For children, this means costumes, trick or treating, and of course lots of candy. As a parent who is concerned about the health of your children’s teeth, this can be a bit stressful. However, the worst thing you can do is deny them the experience of Halloween. Depriving a child the enjoyment of trick or treating will only make their desire for candy grow, as it is now considered a forbidden object. They may just find some candy at school from other children and sneak around you once they are out of your eyesight.

Instead, let them enjoy the entirety of the Halloween experience, because after all, kids are kids and these are experiences they will only get to have a few times. Here are a few things you can do to make this Halloween a fun learning experience.

Help Kids See What Candy is Bad for Teeth – Separate It Out

Whenever your child gets back with their sack of candy, go through it and discuss what kind candy is extremely bad for teeth and what kind of candy isn’t going to bother them too much. For instance, candy corn has a whopping 32 grams of sugar per serving, which is equivalent to 8 tablespoons!

Worst Halloween Candy for Your Teeth Are:

  1. Chewy Candies stick to your teeth for long periods of time triggering cavity causing acid to buildup: Laffy Taffy, Caramels, Milk Duds, Starbursts, Tootsie Rolls and Gummies.
  2. Acidic Candies carries an erosive acid, and with the combined sugar, acidic candies deliver a double whammy to your teeth: Lemon Heads, Sour Patch Kids, and War Heads.
  3. Hard Candies allows sugar to sit on teeth for long periods of time, and may chip teeth: Jolly Ranchers, Jaw Breakers, Fire Balls, and Suckers.

Instead Try These Halloween Candies:

  1. Smarties or candy necklaces
  2. Mini Chocolate Bars – melts quickly so sugar isn’t sitting on teeth
  3. Sugar Free Candy – stimulates saliva production which helps protect teeth by flushing away bacteria

Let Kids Pick Out Good Candy to Keep

Now that they have had a learning experience, let them pick out 10 pieces of candy that they want the most. If they choose something that is not good for their teeth, let them have it anyway, but use it as an opportunity to teach them about moderation. Using this time as a moment to educate will help them pick up healthy habits that will follow them throughout the rest of their lives.

The Rest of the Halloween Candy

Now that they have picked out their allotted pieces of candy, it is time to make a decision on what to do with the rest of it. Once again, use this as an educational moment. You can give them the option to either freeze the candy for later or to donate it to another kid who might not be as fortunate as them. This reinforces the idea that candy is not necessarily a bad thing, but that they should enjoy it only in moderation. It can also teach them the value of charity and sharing. Finally, it teaches them about what cavities are and how what they eat affects not just their physical health, but their oral health as well.

If they choose to keep it, then it is up to you as a parent to decide when they can have it – optimal times include:

  • As a Treat: Designate a time during the day where they are allowed to have a treat. This helps children fight the desire to snack on candy all day long, because they will know when “treat time” is.
  • After Meal Time: This will help prevent tooth decay, as saliva flow is high in the mouth. This will help lessen tooth decay and will also help flush bacteria out of the mouth.

Keep Dental Hygiene Fun

Toothbrushes should be replaced every three or four months anyway, so why not make Halloween one of those occasions. Let them pick the brush they want while shopping for a costume, for instance. Children are more likely to want to brush if they like their toothbrush. The same goes for toothpaste. Make the experience fun so that they pick up good dental habits.

So what are some ways you have made your kid’s Halloween both fun and healthy? Share your comments below and let us know what you think!

You May Also Be Interested in Reading More Halloween Dental Tips 

dental halloween tips from dentist holladay utah

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5 Ways to Prepare Young Children for a Dental Exam

5 Ways to Prepare Young Children for a Dental Exam

Your toddler’s first dental exam will be full of new experiences and can seem like a stressful, scary event in their eyes; but it’s also the perfect opportunity to begin to teach your child good oral hygiene habits and good associations with the dentist. When making the first appointment decide whether to take your toddler to a family dentist or a pediatric dentist.

Pediatric dentists specialize in working with small children and toddlers.

Pediatric dentist have offices and equipment that cater to children. Pediatric dentists also have a soothing bedside manner that will make your toddler feel safe and calm. Once you’ve made the appointment you should prepare your toddler. Here is a guide on preparing your child for their first dental exam:

Read Kid Friendly Dental Books to Your Child
Books are an easy way to get your toddler used to the idea of going to the dentist and having someone look in their mouth. When choosing a book make sure to read it first to make sure the book talks about dental exams in a positive, gentle way. Books let your toddler know what to expect at the dental exam. Going to the dentist is much less scary when you know what’s going to happen.

Here is a list of great books to get you started:

Provide Positive Explanations About What’s Going to Happen at the Dentist

Talk to your toddler about what’s going to happen at the dentist in a positive, easy to understand way. You don’t need to tell him or her every detail. Your pediatric dentist will walk your toddler through the details step by step during the exam. You simply tell your child the dentist is going to look at their teeth and clean them to keep them healthy. You don’t need to tell your toddler how the dentist will clean their teeth or explain how going to the dentist treats tooth decay.

It will also help to tell your toddler that everyone in the family goes to the dentist. Tell your toddler about how their parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts, and uncles go to the dentist. If you can, schedule the family’s dental exams the day before and bring your toddler so your child will see first-hand that going to the dentist is a normal part of everyone’s life.

Listen and Answer

Give your child an opportunity to voice their fears. To a toddler, having a strange person poke around their mouth with instruments is scary. Even adults are scared of dentists so it’s important to listen to your child’s fears and reassure them. If your toddler has misunderstandings about the dentist you can clear those up. Your toddler may also have a lot of questions through curiosity.

Get the Timing Right

The last thing you want is a fussy, cranky toddler at the dental exam. The child will perceive the exam as negative if they are already irritated from a long day. The calmer your child, the more cooperative they will be and the more positive the exam will be overall. Schedule the dental exam first thing in the morning or after your child’s afternoon nap.

Minimize Distractions

Minimize distractions during the exam as much as possible for both you and your child. If you have other children that have their appointments the same day, have them wait in the waiting room with another adult. If you can, schedule their appointments for different days. Focusing on your toddler’s first exam will help decrease stress for both you and your child. It’s also helpful to have another adult in the dental exam room with you and your child. This gives you the opportunity to discuss dental health issues with the dentist while the other adult keeps your baby calm.

This guide will help you and your toddler have a positive first dental exam. If you need more information or tips, contact Village Dental in Salt Lake City for a pediatric dental appointment today.

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Early Tooth Loss in Children

Early Tooth Loss in Children

What to do if Your Children Begin Losing Primary Teeth Early

Parents are often left with a conundrum once their children begin losing their teeth. When the tooth fairy gives your child the idea their mouth has become a money pit, a parent should take note if a primary tooth is lost before it’s ready. A major issue with a baby tooth being lost too early is that it can cause problems if action isn’t taken to preserve the space where the tooth was. With many of these issues depending on the child’s stage of dental development, it can cause impaction or misalignment of the incoming permanent teeth if the mouth isn’t ready. Although baby teeth seem transitional, these teeth provide:

  • Chewing with the teeth help your child’s jaw bones develop and grow properly.
  • For proper language and speech, teeth are necessary for development.
  • Baby teeth are important for well-being and self-esteem.

Normal Age and Order of Tooth Loss in Children

As each child has their own internal clock regarding when their baby teeth and adult teeth develop, there’s a few general ages when the processes begin taking place. By the time the child reaches two to two and a half years, all of its baby teeth should have erupted into the mouth with teeth beginning to come in at six months old. By the time the child reaches twelve, all of the baby teeth should have fallen out and the permanent teeth have replaced them. A healthy time frame to expect teeth falling out is between four and eight, but the average child begins to lose these teeth around age six.

Why Do Kids Lose Teeth Prematurely?

Children lose baby teeth early for many reasons, including but not limited to:Normal Age and Order of Tooth Loss in Children

  • Immunity Problems
  • Dental/Periodontal Disease
  • Blood Disease
  • Traumatic Experiences
  • Diabetes/Metabolic Disorders

Dental Space Maintainers

To avoid future complications with speech or development after a child loses baby their teeth, it may be necessary to fill the space that the baby teeth once occupied. If you feel as if the missing baby tooth can present problems, a dentist may apply space retainers to fill spots that could take some time to be filled with a permanent tooth. You can have removable space retainers applied, but if the permanent tooth is on its way to erupt… the spacers may not be needed. A space retainer may be needed if space is an important issue or the child is in need of braces. What’s great about space maintainers is that they can be custom made by an orthodontist or dentist. Although they keep space in the mouth until the permanent teeth come in, they still require upkeep and cleaning because they can still trap debris and food which results in gum irritation or cavities to the surrounding teeth.

Response to Traumatic Loss of Tooth?

If your child happens to lose a tooth that is permanent, there’s still hope it can be replaced. The best approach is to stay calm and control any bleeding that may be taking place. If you can find the tooth, place it in milk or saline solution to keep it alive until you can receive attention from a doctor if the injury is severe enough. Once possible, schedule an appointment with a dentist to get the tooth back where it belongs. Since the tooth is important if it happens to be permanent, rinse it off with milk and replant the tooth immediately. To handle the situation until you can meet with a dentist, you’ll need:

  • Gauze
  • A handkerchief
  • Saline solution
  • A container with a lid
  • Ibuprofen

Taking an aspirin thins the blood, which can cause a problem if the bleeding is severe. Ibuprofen is the safe bet and less hazardous if you’re bleeding and in pain.

Tips for Preventing Tooth Decay in Primary Teeth

Regular teeth upkeep can be followed often once the teeth arrive. For baby teeth, clean them with gauze, finger-cot, or a clean wet washcloth to keep them safe from lingering food and perform this once a day. Once more teeth are present you can begin to use soft bristled toothbrushes for cleaning their teeth.  Make sure you schedule a dentist appointment near the child’s first birthday to make sure their baby teeth are looking great and coming in properly. Although baby teeth are temporary, they still need upkeep that permanent teeth require such as limiting sugar consumption and fluoride/sealant protection.

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What You Need to Know When You Have a Teething Baby

What You Need to Know When You Have a Teething Baby

When your baby enters the teething stages, the first primary teeth, commonly called “baby teeth,” penetrate through the gums. This usually occurs at the age of about six months. However, some babies teethe as early as during their third month. Others may not begin the teething process until their twelfth month of age. Howearly teething stages can you help make teething as easy as possible for your infant? There are various ways to make your child more comfortable throughout this period so he or she can gain bright, healthy new teeth with a minimal amount of discomfort and lack of sleep. Every baby is different, experiencing different degrees of discomfort during the teething period. For this reason, you should try multiple methods to relieve your baby’s teething pain or bothersome symptoms. Just remember—it will all be over in three years when all primary teeth have arrived, and the first couple of teeth are the most troublesome ones for babies and parents to deal with.

What Are Early Signs That Your Baby is Teething?

Many babies cry or become irritable and fussy during the onset of teething. By examining your baby’s gums, you can identify any redness or swelling just before a new tooth breaks through the gum tissue. The signs are often visible a few days before the tooth appears, and they subside after the tooth comes into place. Most infants have increased biting and chewing tendencies during this period. They may chew on fingers, toys and any objects small enough to put in their mouths. If your baby constantly bites and chews, but will not eat food or drink liquids, this is usually a definite sign that he or she is beginning to teethe. While biting and chewing can reduce pressure on your infant’s gums, food or drinks may increase gum pain. Most babies also drool, sometimes excessively, while they are teething, so you may want to use protective skin creams and gels on your infant’s face and chest to prevent rashes and skin irritations. Your baby may also have difficulty sleeping during early teething stages.

baby-teething-pain-remedyWhy is Teething Painful for Your Infant?

As the first primary teeth start to push against and break through your baby’s gums, your child first experiences gum swelling and irritation followed by pain. Although the pain subsides during the first couple of days after a tooth appears, the surrounding gums can stay sensitive for a few more days. As you know, biting and chewing can alleviate some of your baby’s discomfort while teething. However, sucking on a pacifier or bottle nipple may increase gum sensitivity and soreness since it draws more blood to irritated gum areas. Luckily, gum tissue is resilient and heals rather quickly, so your small child’s pain and discomfort will lessen soon after early teeth pierce the gums.

What Are Best Methods for Soothing Your Baby’s Teething Pain?

During teething, give your infant appealing objects to chew on like safe teething rings specially designed to prevent gum and mouth irritation. It is essential to provide your baby with safe chewable objects so he or she will not chew on sharp, hard or unhealthy objects around your home. Some babies like teething rings that have been chilled slightly in the refrigerator, but never put a teething ring in the freezer. If the ring hardens in freezing temperatures, it may scratch or irritate your baby’s gums. Give your baby soft foods to chew on like bananas, chunky applesauce, finely chopped apples or pureed peaches. Feeding your baby yogurt is also soothing to sensitive gums. If your infant insists on chewing fabric, you can soak a clean washcloth in cool water and let him or her chew on it. You can also rub your baby’s sore gums very gently with a damp, soft cloth to alleviate pain and to comfort your child.

What Are the Primary Teething Stages and How Long Do They Last?

Most babies get their lower central incisors, or lower two front teeth, during their first six to ten months. The upper central incisors, or upper two front teeth, usually appear at age eight to twelve months. Next come the lateral incisors and cuspid teeth (the next two teeth on both sides of the central incisors) at age nine to 23 months. The first and second molars usually arrive during a child’s first 13 to 33 months of age. Your baby may reject any remedy and just want a good cuddle. The good news is that your baby’s first few teeth will probably be the worst. Her next few teeth may come through more easily.

How Should You Clean and Care For Your Baby’s New Teeth?caring-infant-teeth

If your infant develops intense pain or any fever during teething, you should consult your doctor right away. Milder pain can often be treated with use of infant paracetamol, infant ibuprofen or a teething gel. Never give a small child medication intended for adolescents or adults. If your child will drink cool water, this can be soothing to pain during teething and can help lower any fever. To clean your baby’s first teeth, massage the teeth and gums very gently with a damp, soft cloth. To keep baby teeth healthy, you can add a small drop of toothpaste to the damp cloth, then massage again with a clean cloth. Once gums are free of swelling and irritation, you can use a soft-bristle toothbrush designed for infants to clean new teeth. Your baby should have his or her first visit with your family dentist within the first six months following the appearance of the first primary tooth. Of course, this important event calls for lots of love, encouragement and a celebration for baby afterward.

Holladay, Utah Pediatric Dentist

If you think that your child may be developing dental issues from pacifier use, don’t hesitate to contact Village Dental. Dr. Rasch donates his time and talent each week, providing dental treatment to underprivileged children and teens at the Christmas Box House. He is passionate about providing his youngest patients with the highest level of comfort, and quality dental care. Call 801-277-1916 to schedule an appointment with Village Dental today!

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Healthy Teeth Halloween Tips

Healthy Teeth Halloween Tips

 

Halloween is coming and scary days are ahead! The frightful costumes, eerie voices, spiders and snakes holiday might be a little scary for young trick-or-treaters, but the real fright might be with parents who have to deal with the aftermath of a Halloween weekend of candy in their children’s’ teeth.

At Halloween, children will collect all kinds of treats, from sticky, hard candies to chew, gooey candies, chocolate treats to sugar filled confections. Parents know that all these sweet treats filled with sugar can harm kids’ growing teeth and cause cavities, but at the same time, we don’t want to be the Grinch of Halloween for our kids.

The dental pros at Village Dental understand this. We have been serving patients for over 50 years, so we know a thing or two about how excessive candy eating can affect oral health. We provide quality, gentle dentistry in Salt Lake City for you and your family, and our latest dental techniques can help identify teeth issues quickly. And like you, we care about all the candy that gets consumed for Halloween. Here are Village Dental’s tips and advice to parents on limiting the amount of sugar and sweets. This Halloween, help keep your kids on the right path toward great oral hygiene!

Healthy Teeth Halloween Dental Tip #1 – Dinner Before Candyvampire dental joke

Get your kids to eat a healthy meal full of nutrients, protein and carbohydrates before trick or treating. It will assist in limiting the amount of candy they stuff into their mouth. Some studies show that eating a good meal increases saliva glands, and that extra saliva can help to clean teeth. So get the kids to eat before candy.

 

Healthy Teeth Halloween Dental Tip #2 – Control the Candy

Instead of allowing your kids to eat up all their Halloween treats in 1-2 days, we recommend putting the bucket aside, and to then ration it out in sensible amounts over time. Reducing how much candy your child eats is the important thing; too much candy will lead to tooth decay later on.

 

Healthy Teeth Halloween Dental Tip #3 – Water During Candbat dental joke

If you’re out canvassing the neighborhood for Halloween, make sure your kids drink a lot of water. The water will help clear out any candy that gets stuck to their teeth, and it will also hydrate them during the evening’s activities. Too much sugar and not enough water can lead to some wired or cranky kids later in the night.

 

  • Avoid Hard & Sticky Candies

Parents – be on the lookout for those small hard and sticky candies. The length of time that a hard candy stays in a child’s mouth helps to increase the chances of more tooth decay. Studies show that the longer a kid has hard candy in his mouth, the longer time the sugar is there too. This greatly increases the growth of the bacteria that causes cavities to take root.

But what’s maybe even worse about hard candies is when kids bite down on these hard candies. That may actually break the fillings or teeth, or damage orthodontic work.

 

  • Avoid Gummy Candyskeleton dental joke

Gummy type bears, fish and other edible treats are nearly as bad as hard candies. Though they are softer, bits of the candy often get stuck in between teeth. Without a good flossing session, these bits of candy can stay inside the teeth, until finally washed away. But they can also impact the risk of tooth decay.

 

  • Acceptable Candy

The most acceptable type of candy might be the soft, chewable, non-sticky candies like chocolates, liquid filled candy gels and M&M-type candies. They get absorbed quickly into the body and don’t linger in the teeth, thus helping to avoid cavity-causing bacteria. Lucky for most parents, children enjoy these types of candies, so if you can swap hard candies with these softer one, do it!

 

Healthy Teeth Halloween Dental Tip #4 – Candy Substitutions

ghoul dental joke

Check your local grocer’s shelf for sugarless candy, sugarless gum and other candy substitutes. Look especially for ADA approved sugarless gum. Did you know that tooth decay can be greatly reduced by chewing sugarless gum for 20 minutes after meals? This is due to the gum chewing producing more saliva that helps flush out food particles and neutralize any acids.

 

Or avoid giving out candy altogether, instead band with local neighbors and decide to give out other Halloween treats instead of sugar-filled candy. Hand out pretend vampire teeth, bloody drinks (red dye), pumpkin stickers, Halloween toys and more. With a bit of effort, you and the other parents in your particular Salt Lake City area can help to cut the amount of candy given out.

 

Healthy Teeth Halloween Dental Tip #5 – Practice Good Teeth Habits

The kids should know that if they are eating all types of sugary treats early on, they’re going to clean their teeth well before bed. As a routine, your kids should brush their teeth two times a day. Flossing is also very important for all kids to learn to do. The earlier they know this important dental practice, the better their teeth will be as they grow up. Flossing helps get rid of the food parts that stay stuck in between teeth. If you’re not flossing, you’re missing 35 percent of the tooth. Food stuck between the teeth hardens into tartar.

 

Visit Your Local Dentist in Holladay, Utahghost dental joke

Finding the right dentist is an important task, and we invite you to come in for a visit. Your dentist should be part of the American Dental Association. Village Dental is a proud member and integrated into Salt Lake City community. Regular visits to your dentist can help catch teeth-related issues early on and avoid more serious treatment methods.

We hope these dental tips for Halloween are helpful. If you’re in the market for a new dentist, please come visit us in Holladay, Utah. We’d be happy to show you our treatment facility and talk about your dental needs for you and your family.

 

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How to Prevent and Control Early Childhood Tooth Decay in Infants and Toddlers

How to Prevent and Control Early Childhood Tooth Decay in Infants and Toddlers

 

Parents want to keep their young children healthy and establish habits that will protect them for life. Dental care is among the essential habits to ensure good health. Preventing early childhood tooth decay lowers a child’s risk of developing dental caries later. The process begins well before a child’s first birthday and includes an early first visit to the dentist.

What Is Early Childhood Tooth Decay?

early childhood tooth decay

Early childhood tooth decay is also known as baby bottle mouth and nursing baby syndrome. An official definition of early childhood caries (ECC) comes from the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (APD) and American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). A child under age six with decay in at least one baby tooth has ECC.

 

Why Is It Important to Keep Young Children’s Teeth Clean?

Baby teeth are not permanent and will eventually be replaced by adult teeth, but keeping them healthy is still important. Children whose primary teeth become decayed have three times more risk of developing tooth decay in their adult teeth. Tooth decay can lead to pain and irritability, and even harmful infections.

It can cause the need for more serious treatment than a simple visit to the dentist. This is not only inconvenient, but also expensive. A visit to the hospital emergency room can end up costing ten times the amount than the cost would have been for preventive care.

 

Tips to Prevent Baby Bottle Mouth

Infants who are younger than 12 months should have their mouths wiped with a clean, moistened washcloth after each meal. Once children reach 1 year of age, parents can brush their mouths gently twice a day, preferably after breakfast and before bed. Children should not be permitted to swallow toothpaste.

These are some additional tips for preventing baby bottle syndrome.

  • Find out whether local drinking water is fluoridated. If not, a dentist may recommend a fluoride rinse to strengthen teeth.
  • Never let children go to bed with a bottle. The sugars are prime feed for bacteria that generate acids that wear away at tooth enamel and lead to dental caries.
  • Only allow children to have a bottle at meals. A pacifier is a better alternative between meals.
  • Encourage children to use a sippy cup as soon as possible after age 12 months to reduce the use of a bottle.

salt lake city pediatric dentist

Food Choices for Preventing Early Childhood Tooth Decay

As with adults, the diets of young children can affect their risk of developing tooth decay. Limiting certain foods while emphasizing milk and other nutritious choices can help keep teeth healthy. The following foods and beverages can increase the risk of tooth decay.

  • Sugar water and soft drinks in a bottle.
  • Juice in a bottle – offer it only diluted half and half with water in a sippy cup to encourage children to graduate.
  • Sugary foods, especially between meals.
  • Sticky foods, such as gummies and fruit roll-ups.

When to Schedule the First Dental Visit

The best time to schedule the first dental visit is around the infant’s first birthday. The first tooth usually appears near this time. From that time, the dentist can monitor each new primary tooth to make sure they stay healthy. The dental visit can also:

  • Give parents the chance to ask questions.
  • Allow the dentist to show proper brushing technique.
  • Lower the risk of future tooth decay.
  • Lead to detection of any current tooth decay.
  • Establish the habit of going to the dentist.
  • Lead to dental sealants and fluoride rinses to reduce the risk of tooth decay.

Age Most Children Get Their Baby Teeth.

when kids get their teeth

  • Lower central incisor at 6-10 months.
  • Upper central incisor at 8-12 months.
  • Upper lateral incisor at 9-13 months.
  • Lower lateral incisor at 10-16 months.
  • Upper first molar at 13-19 months.
  • Lower first molar at 14-18 months.
  • Upper canine at 16-22 months.
  • Lower canine at 17-23 months.
  • Lower second molar at 23-31 months.
  • Upper second molar at 25-33 months.

 

How to Make the First Dental Visit a Positive Experience

first dentist appointment

The following tips can help parents turn the first dental visit into a positive experience.

  • Keep anxiety from young children so they do not get nervous about going to the dentist.
  • Do not use a trip to the dentist as punishment. Instead, act as though it is an exciting event that you will both enjoy.
  • Never bribe a child to visit the dentist. Children should learn that going to the dentist is a normal activity that is not to be dreaded.
  • Schedule the appointment for a time when the child is most likely to be rested and able to cooperate. For most children, that is in the morning.
  • Go to a dentist whose office is experienced in caring for young children. Staff may be better prepared and there may be more child-friendly accommodations, such as toys and kids’ books in the waiting room.

Good oral health starts in infancy. Parents can protect against tooth decay and guard against baby bottle mouth by ensuring healthy eating habits and proper oral care. The child’s first visit to the dentist can help set the stage for a lifetime of keeping teeth healthy. Schedule your Holladay, Utah pediatric dentist appointment with Dr. Rasch today!

 

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How Mothers Can Teach Their Children Good Dental Habits For Life

How Mothers Can Teach Their Children Good Dental Habits For Life

When great dental habits start early they can last for an entire lifetime, so it’s important to start teaching children how to take care of their teeth as soon as their first pearly whites start growing in. Of course, it can be a challenge to show kids everything they need to know about dental health and hygiene. I’ve put together the following useful advice for setting up your children for a lifetime of dental health – and helping them have fun in the process.

Teaching the Proper Brushing Technique

One of the first personal care activities childredental healthn learn is brushing their teeth. However, even though they learn this skill early on, kids of all ages (and even some adults) need to make sure they’re using the correct brushing technique.

I encourage parents to continually emphasize the most important aspects of brushing – doing it for a full two minutes, using the right amount of toothpaste (no more than a pea-sized amount for kids 6 and under), and reaching all the important areas in the mouth (the fronts and backs of teeth and the tongue).

Mothers and fathers with younger children can take advantage of kids’ tendencies to imitate everything their parents do. Turn brushing into a fun family activity by brushing right alongside your child. Ask your child to copy you when you brush each section of your teeth and your tongue. If you’re not sure whether you’re brushing correctly, you can always ask one of the dentists or dental hygienists here at Village Dental for a quick refresher on brushing technique during your next appointment.

Many kids struggle to brush their teeth for the full two minutes that dental professionals recommend. To make the time fly while also making brushing more enjoyable, parents can play music while their kids brush. I encourage parents to use their kids’ favorite songs and ask children to brush until the song hits the two-minute mark. After a while your child will have a better sense of how long two minutes is, and she won’t need to use the music as a tool for timing purposes.

Making Sure Children Floss Regularly

Too many people mistakenly believe that flossing is something that only needs to be done every once in a while. However, everyone should floss at least once a day to remove plaque buildup between teeth and promote good gum health.

Another misconception is that flossing is only important once we get older. This couldn’t be farther from the truth. Parents should start flossing their child’s teeth as soon as a child has two teeth that touch each other. Flossing can be a tricky skill for children to master, so parents should help until kids are able to sufficiently do it on their own – at around age 10.

If your older child has trouble remembering to floss on a regular basis, you can give her an incentive and a reminder by hanging up a calendar in the bathroom. Every time she successfully flosses, put a sticker on that calendar day. When she has earned a string of stickers straight in a row (perhaps after 14 days or one full month), she receives a reward, whether it’s a small toy or book, an outing of her choice or more TV time.

Mothers and fathers can also help children look forward to flossing time by associating this important activity with something exciting. Because it can take children a bit longer to floss than it takes adults, try making flossing time do double duty by reading or telling children a story while they floss. You can read from a book or tell a long story that picks up where it left off the night before, so kids won’t want to miss each night’s flossing session.

Encouraging Great Eating Habits

A major part of excellent dental health involves developing good eating habits. When moms and dads teach their kids to eat well, they’re setting them up to maintain healthy teeth and a healthy body for life.

To preventing tooth decay and gum disease, parents should avoid giving kids excessive amounts of candy, cookies, soft drinks and other foods that have high sugar contents. Certain sugary foods are especially damaging to teeth – sour candy can strip tooth enamel, sticky candy can get stuck on and between teeth, and hard candy or sugary gum stays in the mouth for a long time – giving teeth longer exposure to these potentially harmful foods.

Parents can encourage their children to eat these types of food and candy only in moderation. It can also be a good idea to encourage children to brush and floss immediately after consuming sugary or sticky food.

If you put out snacks for kids to eat between meals, opt for fruits (like apples and clementines), vegetables (celery and carrots) and other choices that are healthier for their bodies and for their teeth. Festive holidays can be especially challenging for mothers and fathers who want to keep their kids from munching on too many sugary treats. Make an effort to mix in plenty of fruits and healthy snacks into kids’ holiday stockings, Easter baskets and Halloween pails.

Just as there are foods that are bad for children’s’ teeth, there are also certain foods and drinks that promote great dental health. Foods with calcium (like dairy) and protein (like meat and fish) are important for maintaining strong teeth. An easy way to give children’s teeth a healthy boost is to give them tap water rather than bottled water. Most tap water contains fluoride, a mineral that can significantly reduce the incidence of tooth decay.

Scheduling Regular Dental Visits

Even the youngest child can learn to think of twice annual dentist visits as an important habit. A child should begin seeing a dentist within a few months of his first tooth growing in. Parents can teach children how important these visits are by scheduling them for the same time each year, so kids get used to the regularity of the appointment. Mothers and fathers can show kids that these regular visits aren’t just for children by keeping up with their own dental appointments.

Of course, one of the most common issues parents have is dealing with a child’s fear of the dentist. Fear of the dentist can be a problem in children who are visiting for the first time or for kids who have been going for quite some time.

Fortunately, there are a few things parents can do to ease a child’s anxiety. Sometimes children are most afraid because they don’t know what’s going to happen at the dentist, so you can start by encouraging your child to ask any questions he may have about what is going to happen during the visit. Take him through the steps of a basic check up, and consider doing some role play to get him comfortable with the idea of having his teeth cleaned by someone else.

Mothers and fathers can also help children put their fears aside by setting a good example. If a parent is experiencing anxiety about dental visits, children often pick up on those fears. Whenever you have an upcoming appointment, talk to your child about the experience in a positive and uplifting way. This will make dentist visits for your children go much more smoothly.

Helping Children Take Pride in Great Dental Health

While parents should never make kids feel bad if they have a cavity or other type of dental issue, they can give children positive feedback and encouragement for maintaining healthy habits or getting through a dental visit with a clean – or an improved – bill of health.

When kids begin brushing and flossing on their own, observe their dental hygiene routines and compliment them when they do an especially thorough job. Even when they no longer need to be observed, you can randomly take a look at their teeth after they’ve finished brushing and flossing to ensure that they’ve been thorough with their cleaning and to give them positive feedback.

This type of encouragement is especially helpful during a dental visit. When they’re waiting for their appointment to begin or going through the process of their check up, remind them that they’re doing great. If they get a report of “no cavities,” congratulate them on doing their part to keep up great oral health. This lesson will stick with them for a long time to come.

Parents can give kids even more tools to help them associate dental health with enjoyable activities. There many picture books, coloring books, puzzles and games (like word searches and crosswords) that have dental themes and can be used to reinforce excellent habits.

It’s never too late to instill great dental habits that can last a lifetime. With a little time each day, you can teach and demonstrate excellent dental cleaning practices and healthy eating on a regular basis. If you ever need more guidance, don’t hesitate to call or visit the friendly professionals at Village Dental.

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How to Build a Dental Friendly Easter Basket

How to Build a Dental Friendly Easter Basket

It’s that time of year again, the snow is melting off the mountains and the sun is shining. Spring is here and that can only mean one thing, it’s time for Easter. Easter means many things: family, friends, eggs, and Easter baskets. Easter baskets are a grand tradition that has been around for years, and one of the staples of the Easter basket is candy. With this in mind, how can you build a dental friendly Easter basket that can still delight your child without the negative dental and health impacts that come from loading it with candy?

Dental Friendly Easter Basket

Toys

Toys are a great way to fill an Easter basket. You can fill a basket with several small toys that your child will love. This is good for numerous reasons: first, you can fill the basket for a price similar to what you would have spent on the candy to fill it the same amount. Also, you will saving yourself the pain of having to deal with a sugar-addled child as well as saving them the potential health and dental problems that can follow them for the rest of their lives.

Hobbies

Play to your children’s hobbies. If your child is into sports, get them items related to their sports. A new glove for your Baseball player, a new Football for your Football player, or new cleats for your Soccer player, all excellent substitutes for candy in an Easter basket. You can also use this in a different way; maybe consider tickets to a professional sports game. If your child loves basketball, you could put tickets to a Jazz game in their Easter basket.

Coupons

Coupons can be a very fun way to fill an Easter basket. These can be a bit of a risk initially, receiving paper in their Easter basket can sometimes disappoint kids but once they read the coupons, they’re sure to enjoy them. You can leave a wide variety of coupons that will be fun and beneficial for them. A coupon that states that they don’t have to do any chores for one day, or letting them pick what’s for dinner. A fun coupon that’s always a hit with kids is when they can make you do something that they would normally have to, something like “Choose a parent to do your chores for you for one night.”

Activities

You can fill your child’s Easter basket with different forms of activities. Coloring books are a great activity for filling an Easter basket. Board games are also an excellent way to fill an Easter basket; these have the added bonus of creating an opportunity for some quality family time with you and your child. You can also put tickets to the zoo or some other activity in the basket that you and your child can enjoy together.

Easter baskets without candy may seem strange but it can be a great way to teach your child lessons that benefit them in the future. You can use one of these ideas or a combination of several of them. The best way to go about it is to find some ideas that you know will work for your child, after all, nobody knows your child as well as you do.

On behalf of our favorite pediatric dentist, and everyone here at Village Dental, have a fun, safe, and healthy Easter weekend.

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